Prospective accountants normally need at least a bachelor's degree in the field, although master's programs and combined bachelor's and master's programs are available. The latter programs are helpful for those who plan to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, as they help them meet the certification requirement of 150 semester hours. In addition to pursuing a degree in accounting alone, aspiring accountants can choose from broader business administration programs that have an accounting emphasis.
Undergraduates learn about basic accounting principles, taxation, auditing, fraud detection and accounting information systems. Graduate students usually study advanced accounting topics, such as tax research, advanced accounting law, advanced financial and cost accounting and accounting ethics. All programs typically have some general business coursework included.
Graduates who want to provide public accounting services on their own need to earn CPA certification, which requires passing a series of exams, meeting educational requirements and having work experience. There are also the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) credentials available.
Here are common concepts taught in accountant courses:
- Auditing process and standards
- Cost analysis
- Financial statements and reporting
- Tax deductions and liabilities
- International accounting
- Business and/or tax research methods
- Global economy
List of Common Courses
Introduction to Accounting Course
Students learn the business side to accounting, such as legible handwriting, bookkeeping, various equations and liabilities in this introductory class. Basic accounting principles and how they relate to statement making are also covered. This course is a must for any accounting major.
This class addresses creating account reports. Familiarization of cash flows, revenue and expense, stockholders' equity, revenue recognition and pro forma statements are taught. Students learn skills for creating reports with decision makers in mind. Students may also use pensions and employee benefits when creating reports.
Studies in Fraud Course
Detecting fraud and working with financial statements are an important to successful accounting. Students of this course have the opportunity to learn how to detect, examine and correct fraud issues. The materials will look at the difference between civil and criminal fraud laws and the outcomes for both. There will be discussion of the various types of fraud as well.
Topics of this course include special reports, internal checking and auditing techniques. Students learn how to handle audits more smoothly and also study auditing laws. Ethics are considered in addition to government auditing standards. Individuals will learn how to set up an internal auditing department and how to manage purchasing.
Managerial Accounting Course
In this course, students learn the basics of managerial accounting. Discussions of cost determination, cost control, cost behavior and investment decisions are included in the class. Decision making - a large part of managerial accounting - is a special topic of this course. Financial forecasting, transfer pricing and budgeting make up a good part of the curriculum.
Commonly taken by accounting majors, this course looks into the laws and regulations of federal taxation. Students will become familiar with individual tax laws and standards, such as deductions, capital gains and losses. Students discuss the different types of tax clients and specialized issues, such as multi-state tax returns, beneficiaries and property transfers.